In my opinion, hip hop collective Jedi Mind Tricks’ member Vinnie Paz is a lyricist, not a rapper. His wordplay is something that requires careful thought and isn’t music to which I merely nod my head for the sake of entertainment.
On his 2020 album As Above So Below, Paz released a song entitled “Ankle Bracelets” which featured the vocals of Queen Herawin. As a means of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) practice, I think the track is worth examining herein.
In traditional male-versus-female rap style, Paz raps to Queen Herawin by assuming a representative all-male stance against an all-female category. For instance, see Too $hort, Danger Zone, and Rappin’ 4-Tay’s “Don’t Fight the Feeling.”
Using this form of melodic banter, group XY (male) overgeneralizes about characteristics observed by many members of group XX (female). The caricaturized argument is haphazardly constructed of stereotypes, half-truths, and anecdotes which portray members of the out-group in an unfavorable light.
In “Ankle Bracelets,” Paz indicts Herawin of manipulative and controlling behavior, in regards to pair-bonding, as he essentially defends his decision of men going their own way (MGTOW). As is the case when classifying people in various ways, labeling becomes a messy affair.
For example, one source describes MGTOW as “an anti-feminist, misogynistic, mostly online community advocating for men to separate themselves from women and a society which they believe has been corrupted by feminism.” Aside from the “misogynistic” trope, I agree with this definition.
A separate source expands, “Women are essentially portrayed as parasites riding on the coattails of men, who have, throughout history, been responsible for ‘far greater miracles of science, discovery and human endeavour’ [sic]. By shaking women off, it is explained, men will be free to pursue ever higher achievements.”
In “Ankle Bracelets,” Paz outlines such a case. From an REBT perspective, I focus on description rather than prescription of moral perspectives.
In other words, I don’t irrationally demand that others should, must, or ought to obey the principles I favor. If members of group XY adopt values with which I’m uncomfortable, I don’t moralizingly declare that they mustn’t do so.
As such, when Paz advocates MGTOW philosophy—even if he’s unintentionally doing so, I don’t disturb myself with beliefs about his outlook. Evidently, it appears as though the lyricist desires sexual intimacy though not committed relationships with women.
According to one source, “Heterosexual male MGTOW believers are still attracted to women and still desire sexual activity, a subject which creates a lot of debates on their message boards.” Given this understanding, I interpret “Ankle Bracelets” as a MGTOW-aligned song.
Having briefly outlined who Paz is, and having addressed the MGTOW philosophy and movement, I now present “Ankle Bracelets” and my response to the track. Keep in mind that this post serves as practice for my approach to REBT and isn’t intended to incriminate anyone.
See, I’m non-committal, mommy, that’s the way that it is
I be in my own space and I stay in my biz
It ain’t nothing new, mama, I been sayin’ for years
All y’all do is stay stressin’ me and grayin’ my hairs
It’s not about fears and it’s not responsibility
It’s not about my father and it’s not compatibility
Y’all are G-d’s curse ma, Eve ate the apple
And y’all ain’t gon’ convince me that monogamy is natural
I ain’t tryna talk to somebody who irrational
And who the fuck is you to try to take me from my castle?
It ain’t about maturity; it ain’t no little boy shit
Just save the psychoanalyzing me and all the Freud shit
And I be all up in the crib and wanna be at home
And not have somebody bein’ all up in my phone
And I ain’t lying to you; I’m just lettin’ it be known
Paz begins by setting a boundary that is meaningful to him. He’s “non-committal” and has apparently retained this values-based behavior for “years.”
Paz goes on to generalize about group XX with the claim of women “stressin’” him. From an REBT perspective, using the ABC Model, I would argue that it isn’t the Action of women that leads to an unpleasant Consequence for the lyricist—forming an A-C connection.
Rather, it’s Paz’s Belief about how women apparently behave that leads to an undesirable Consequence—creating a B-C connection. If the entertainer’s hair is graying, this unwelcomed result stems from his unhelpful assumptions about how things ought to be.
Preemptively, Paz rules out critiques to his stance which are associated with fear, personal responsibility, unresolved childhood issues, and conformity. I can appreciate clarity of this sort, because it wouldn’t be unreasonable to presume these elements are liable for his decision.
However, I disagree with the artist’s implication that perhaps all members of group XX are cursed in relation to the story of Adam and Eve. Thankfully, I’m not pretentious enough to conclude that I must agree with all of a person’s opinions in order to appreciate the individual.
Paz criticizes the concept of monogamy and proposes that one who assails his perspective is “irrational.” Using logic and reason, I will attempt to steel man his case. Paz’s position takes the following logical form:
Premise #1: All other things being equal, the greater the mutual love in a relationship, the better the relationship;
Premise #2: Polyamory is inherently more compatible with mutual love than monogamy
Conclusion: Polyamory is better than monogamy.
Given this logical though questionable conclusion, one may interpret that Paz could consider an emotional appeal that counters his argument as that which is irrational. This type of logical fallacy works like this:
Claim X is made without evidence. In place of evidence, emotion is used to convince the interlocutor that X is true.
People who promote a non-monogamous lifestyle seek to dissolve family units and want children to suffer the consequences of irresponsible adults.
Emotions aren’t rational—based in accordance with logic and reason. Therefore, an appeal to emotion is an irrational tactic and doesn’t seem to be something in which Paz is interested.
“Ankle Bracelets” continues with Paz inquiring about whom among group XX is qualified to force upon him a will that contradicts his own by presumably removing the artist from his fortified position. He then assures Herawin that the lyricist’s outlook isn’t pathological—extreme, excessive, or markedly abnormal.
Supporting his claim, Paz continues addressing preemptive criticism. He declares that his choice to live as he does isn’t the result of immaturity or mental illness. Decidedly, the entertainer defends his MGTOW lifestyle by making a case for self-determination and autonomy.
Self-determination references an individual’s ability to make choices and manage one’s own life. Autonomy relates to the quality or state of being independent, free, and self-directing.
The former addresses an ability to judge what is good, bad, right, or wrong for oneself. The latter is the application of one’s ability to discern through the exercise of liberty and freedom.
Per my interpretation of Paz’s argument, he doesn’t desire inconveniences such as being tracked or monitored by a romantic interest (i.e., Find My Phone, Life360, etc.), and I don’t blame him. Thus, it isn’t that he’s misogynistic and hates group XX; he merely doesn’t believe he must be devoted to women.
[Chorus: Vinnie Paz and Queen Herawin]
Herawin: That you ain’t really ready, ready
Paz: Ready ain’t the way to put it
Herawin: Ain’t trying to go steady, steady
Paz: Shit, I’d rather eat a bullet
Herawin: Still, want the head steady, steady
Paz: You goddamn right. I do
Herawin: You swear I’m being petty, petty?
Paz: I ain’t tryna spend my life with you
Herawin: How long we gonna do this stuff?
Paz: As long as I fuckin’ wanna
Herawin: You think I’m stressin’ you for dough
Paz: I don’t really want the drama
Herawin: Just want to make us a home
Paz: You actin’ like my enemy
Herawin: But fuck it, then just be alone
Paz: Maybe that’s the way it’s meant to be
On a track entitled “Fuck Y’all Niggaz” from Outsidaz, featuring Rah Digga, groups XY and XX lyrically battle one another through use of exaggerated out-group attributes. On “Ankle Bracelets,” a similar effect is used though it’s focused on individual representatives of these groups.
Paz clearly states, “I ain’t tryna spend my life with you,” and, “I don’t really want the drama.” Unable to sway his conviction, Herawin relents by expressing, “Just want to make us a home,” and, “But fuck it, then just be alone.”
From an REBT perspective, it would appear as though Herawin reached a productive outcome. Rather than self-disturbing through use of her personal and rigid terms of service, she used unconditional acceptance.
Often, when mate selection and irrational emotions related to the process of being “in love” is at hand, people upset themselves with inflexible B-C connection narratives. Herawin could’ve replied to Paz, “You should love me, because I couldn’t stand the thought of losing you.”
However, expressing such a thing is incorrect for two reasons. First, there is no objective requirement for Paz to reciprocate the emotional expressions of other people.
While Herawin may prefer that Paz acquiesce to her desires, it isn’t true that he should do so. Second, it would be unrealistic to declare that Herawin couldn’t “stand” (tolerate and accept) perceived rejection.
Though Herawin may favor an outcome that aligns with her interests, she existed without Paz in her life for many years before meeting him. Therefore, she could endure being without him following his refusal to pair bond with her.
As such, Herawin has used unconditional self-acceptance through understanding that she doesn’t need Paz. She’s also used unconditional other-acceptance by acknowledging that others may not share her interests and goals.
See, I don’t feel lonely, ma, I would never settle
And I ain’t got the time for bein’ monkey in the middle
Y’all behave like an enigma, wrapped inside a riddle
And y’all don’t bring shit to the table that’s beneficial
Make yourself useful and carry the fuckin’ pistol
But you don’t wanna do nothing that’s seen as sacrificial
You think that you industrious and that’s the fuckin’ issue
Men are different, women all alike, that’s official
Salah, Marciano, my mama and then it’s over
I ain’t gon’ be tourin’ while you laying on the sofa
I’m cut from a different cloth, papa was a G
And papa told me loyalty and honor is the key
And y’all don’t have neither one of them, so skedaddle
Feel some type of way, tryna blame it on a pharaoh
Paz begins the second verse with a misnomer in regards to the word “feel.” To feel something is to experience it through emotion (e.g., I feel sad) or sensation (e.g., I feel hot).
One doesn’t “feel lonely.” A person can be alone, feel sorrow from the experience of loneliness, and feel sickness in the stomach. However, there is no such thing as feeling lonely—as controversial as I’m aware this admission may be.
Minor quibble aside, Paz reinforces his boundary set in the first verse. When stating that he hasn’t the time for a romantic relationship, one imagines that the lyricist concludes that the resource of time in a finite existence is valuable and he chooses not to waste what time he has left.
When practicing REBT in my personal and professional life, I advocate the effective use of the unrenewable resource related to time. Of course, a person could choose otherwise and self-disturb when pining for others who refuse one’s advances.
At any rate, I find it humorous that Paz states of group XX, “Y’all behave like an enigma, wrapped inside a riddle,” because human behavior in general can be puzzling. We are incredibly flawed individuals and complex systems, and this isn’t solely true for group XX.
Admittedly, I diverge from Paz’s assertion about group XX not bringing “shit to the table that’s beneficial.” For a person who refuses to converse with irrational people, as indicated in his first verse, it may be of use for Paz to set aside this standard and engage in self-talk.
Paz’s unreasonable rhetoric is represented thusly:
Premise #1: All women are useless.
Premise #2: All romantic relationships with Paz are with women.
Conclusion: Consequently, all romantic relationships with Paz are useless.
If the major premise were valid, this would be a sound argument. However, there is a flaw in the assumption that all women are useless. Is it true that no woman brings anything of worth to the table in an intimate relationship?
Surely not, because “Ankle Bracelets” references Paz’s mom as a meaningful individual in his life. Moreover, in his song “Same Story (My Dedication),” Paz praises his stepfather for taking care of the lyricist’s mother.
If it is true that Paz’s mom could bring something “to the table that’s beneficial,” it stands to reason that other women could, as well. Whether or not all women do is a separate matter altogether.
As far as the “pistol” and “sacrificial” portion of the second verse is concerned, one imagines these references align with the topic of male disposability. This basic notion hypothesizes that on average, women enjoy liberty and freedom without remaining subject to responsibilities underpinning such privilege.
On the other hand, men are presumably required to sacrifice themselves—to death, if necessary—in order to enjoy such rights. For example, females are exempt from the requirement of United States Selective Service System registration, though males aren’t.
Unequal advantages aside, one wonders about Paz’s claim of group XX, “You think that you industrious and that’s the fuckin’ issue. Men are different, women all alike, that’s official.” Take a moment to consider the three logistic implications of Paz’s claim:
Premise #1: No women are productive.
Premise #2: Some billionaires are women.
Conclusion: Accordingly, some billionaires are not productive.
Perhaps there is an argument to be made about whether or not some female billionaires inherited wealth and remain unproductive. Still, is it true that no women are productive—billionaire or not? Of course not.
Premise #1: If all men are different, all women are the same.
Premise #2: If all women are not the same;
Conclusion: …not all men are different.
This form of rhetorical logic begins with a false major premise that subsequently unravels when a factual minor premise is introduced. The resulting conclusion is open to debate, especially because the initial proposal is inaccurate.
Premise #1: All women are alike.
Premise #2: Herawin is a woman.
Conclusion: Therefore, Herawin is like all women.
Herawin is a female rapper. Not all women are active in hip hop. Ergo, it isn’t possible that all women are alike.
Using REBT, I dispute irrational beliefs much in the manner I’ve demonstrated here. Though it may take some getting used to, I find it helpful to examine broad proposals by which people live their lives—many times resulting in self-induced suffering.
In “Ankle Bracelets,” Paz instructs Herawin to find a man willing to place her interests and goals above his own. He then proceeds to disparage such men, presumably because it’s unlikely that contentment will result from molding women by capitulating to their demands.
Paz then expresses that he was taught “loyalty and honor is the key” to relational success, though group XX apparently has neither trait and he encourages Herawin to move on—regardless of her reaction to his proposal. Again, logic and reason may be useful here.
Premise #1: Women are disloyal and dishonorable.
Premise #2: Women tend towards choosing romantic relationships.
Conclusion: If women tend towards choosing romantic relationships, then they must be disloyal and dishonorable when in them.
As illustrated elsewhere herein, a flawed major premise can result in an inaccurate conclusion. Add to that the demandingness of a should, must, or ought-type statement, and Paz’s MGTOW conclusion isn’t as reasonable as one may’ve otherwise believed.
In this blogpost, I’ve outlined who Paz is, briefly addressed what MGTOW is, and applied logic and reason to “Ankle Bracelets.” While others may reach alternative conclusions, it’s my hope that the reader has benefited from understanding how I use the REBT technique in order to foster rational thinking.
Dear reader, you’re encouraged to consider whether or not this style of psychotherapy may benefit you. Rather than helping people feel better, REBT practitioners aim to help people get better.
Use of logic and reason can assist a person in developing a reasonable perspective. Herein, I’ve demonstrated how drawing conclusions which are overly broad may exceed what could be logically concluded from the available information.
Overgeneralizations of this sort aren’t necessarily helpful. Still, this post isn’t intended to serve as a case against MGTOW, because telling others what they should, must, or ought to do is of no interest to me.
In fact, in a blog entry entitled Better Off Alone, I carefully explored what the originator of REBT, Albert Ellis, would likely have stated about the MGTOW lifestyle if he were alive today. Spoiler alert: He likely wouldn’t have opposed it.
In any case, are you in search of a potentially helpful method of addressing your beliefs about events you experience in life, with the hope of altering your reaction to unreasonable assumptions? I may be able to help.
If you’re looking for a provider who works to help you understand how thinking impacts physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral elements of your life, I invite you to reach out today by using the contact widget on my website.
As the world’s foremost old school hip hop REBT psychotherapist, I’m pleased to help people with an assortment of issues from anger (hostility, rage, and aggression) to relational issues, adjustment matters, trauma experience, justice involvement, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety and depression, and other mood or personality-related matters.
At Hollings Therapy, LLC, serving all of Texas, I aim to treat clients with dignity and respect while offering a multi-lensed approach to the practice of psychotherapy and life coaching. My mission includes: Prioritizing the cognitive and emotive needs of clients, an overall reduction in client suffering, and supporting sustainable growth for the clients I serve. Rather than simply helping you to feel better, I want to help you get better!
Deric Hollings, LPC, LCSW
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